Alpha Flight (2nd series) #12

Issue Date: 
July 1998
Story Title: 

Steve T. Seagle (Writer), Duncan Rouleau (Penciler), Hubbs, Hunter & Sowd (Inkers), Lee Ann Denham (Colorist), Richard Starkings & Albert Deschesne (Letterers), Lysa Kraiger (Assistant Editor), Jaye Gardner (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Alpha Flight arrive back from the Microverse to find Department H under attack from the Zodiac. Almost immediately, Murmur is seriously injured, while Guardian and Puck squabble over a plan of action. Alpha Flight discover Dr. Haddock, seriously injured, and learn that the Zodiac are after something in her lab. Alpha Flight make a hasty retreat as they are far too over powered. Eventually they split up, with Heather taking the wounded Murmur and Haddock to the med-labs, Manbot taking Radius and Flex to the Monitor Bay, and Guardian and Puck going to round the Zodiac up into a place more manageable. Sasquatch however is left on his own to fight the Zodiac. Manbot takes Flex and Radius to the mysterious Floor 13, only Radius wants to go and fight, so he runs off on his own. Heather finds some medics and drops her injured off, with Murmur making a surprise “thank you”. From the Monitor Bay, Flex is able to see all around Department H and project a holographic image of himself to his teammates, alerting them to any Zodiac that are nearby. Heather comes across Sunfire, relieved as they need more manpower. Radius finds his Epsilon friends and discovers that they are all running from a deadly bacteria. Three of the Zodiac engage Radius in combat before unleashing the bacteria upon him. Radius is about to be engulfed by it when Sasquatch comes to his rescue, lifting him high above the ooze, but losing his own life, all of which is witness by Flex. Mac and Judd corral six of the Zodiac into Combat Centrale, which will keep them occupied for some time. Heather and Sunfire come across the skeletal remains of Sasquatch, and Heather briefly mourns the loss of the being she believes to be Walter Langkowski, until they are alerted to Radius’ plight. He is keeping back the bacteria with his force field, protecting himself and the Epsilons. Heather and Sunfire begin to burn the bacteria when General Clarke rushes past them in a radiation suit, and Heather flies off to follow him. In combat Centrale, Judd and Guardian unmask one of the Gemini twins, revealing that it is their missing teammate Madison Jeffries. Jeffries is obviously brainwashed, and uses his mutant powers to make an opening in Combat Centrale so that their teleportation signals will work. Flex explains to Manbot what the device is that the Zodiac are stealing, which Manbot identifies as a serious threat, and brings Flex into a compartment on his form. Guardian and Puck make their way to the Hangar Bay where the Zodiac are, and on the way run into Radius and Sunfire, who have destroyed the bacteria. Heather meanwhile catches up with General Clarke, who is in the reactor core. He reveals that it has to be shut down, for if it reaches critical mass it will kill everyone in Ottawa. The unlikely duo team up to try and cool the reactor, but in the process Clarke is burned alive. In the Hangar Bay, Scorpio discovers that Alpha Flight have learned of Jeffries, while they load their precious cargo onto their ship - until Guardian and his team arrive. Manbot suddenly shows up and releases Flex from his compartment, who knocks open the box the Zodiac were stealing, which reveals the dangerous device Manbot was going on about - the Nth Projector. Scorpio reveals that they plan to use it to create a rift in space. In the reactor core, Heather manages to use her battle suit to cool the core down, which works, however her battle suit begins to over load. The Zodiac inform the male members of Alpha Flight that their reactor core is going to explode, and that they cannot stop that from happening and prevent their escape at the same time. Mac and Judd realize that Heather is there already, and rush to the core, enabling the Zodiac to escape with Jeffries and the Nth Projector. In the core, Heather’s battle suit is about to explode, and Guardian enters the room as it does - but in the nick of time, Heather prevents her own destruction after saving all of Canada. In that moment, Heather and Mac are reunited, and Canada is safe once more. Elsewhere though, Northstar arrives at the old school his sister Aurora grew up at and later taught at. He wonders why he is there, when an old Nun informs him that it caught on fire, killing everyone. To Jean-Paul’s surprise though, he discovers a very unstable Aurora in a classroom, thinking she is still teaching her students.

Full Summary: 

Did you hear something?

Department H, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In the dead of the night, the walls of Department H shatter, explosions blow them apart. Fire ripples through one part of the massive complex and Epsilons lie dead in pools of their own blood.

‘I said, did you hear something?’ one of the seven members of Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight, asks as they travel up through the Prometheus Pit from their adventures in the Microverse. ‘I did. It sounded like thunder’ James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Guardian, Alpha’s leader remarks. ‘It sounded like…’

The end of the world?

Possibly the end of the world for one of Canada’s finest. But which one? Which one will it be?

Alpha Flight arrive at the top of the Prometheus Pit, located inside, funnily enough, the Prometheus Division. Oddly, their teammate Sasquatch who was not with them in the Microverse, appears behind them and growls at the scene before them. ‘What in God’s name?’ exclaims Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson as she sees dozens of Epsilon guards fighting the new Zodiac. Eugene “Puck” Judd tells Heather that God has got nothing to do with it, as Guardian points out the obvious by declaring that the Zodiac has infiltrated Department H. As Mac orders everyone into defense formations, Jared “Radius” Corbo exclaims ‘Cool! Plenty of bona-fide butt to kick! Bring on the bad guys!’

Heather sees the head of the Prometheus Division, Dr. Myra Haddock, is down and flies over to help her, while Radius looks at Sasquatch and remarks that he doesn’t know where he came from, but that he agrees with the growl. ‘Let’s hit ‘em!’ Guardian takes to the air and orders his team forward. Adrian “Flex” Corbo and Manbot follow him, while Judd thinks ‘Forward?’

Heather grabs Myra and lifts her in the air, telling her to let her body go as limp as possible. The exhausted doctor exclaims ‘Shouldn’t have…let…Vindicator? You came…back?’ Radius, protected by his force field revels in the action, calling the Zodiac “losers” he tells them that he has been waiting to skunk them. Mac tells Radius off for his brash actions as Judd exclaims that they need to retreat, to get their bearings before someone gets hurt. ‘I’m in command here, Puck’ Mac declares, when suddenly Manbot announces that there is danger. Hovering above the battle, Mac is witness to Arlette Truffaut a.k.a. Murmur scream as she is caught in an explosion and blasted across the lab.

Which one? Which one will it be?

Judd races over to the unmoving Murmur and tells Flex to cover him. The Zodiac member, Taurus, looms up behind Judd and boasts ‘I’ll cover you…with a shroud!’ Heather and Myra, Radius, Manbot and Mac all soon join Puck, Flex and the injured Murmur. Heather begins to ask if Arlette is dead, to which Judd replies that she isn’t, but she needs medical treatment fast. Mac declares that they need to retreat and get their bearings, to which Judd mutters that he is having some déjà vu.

Suddenly, the Zodiac’s leader, Scorpio, motions to Alpha Flight and tells his fellows that they have regrouped. ‘Strike now and send them to the heavens before they escape!’ Judd remarks that Scorpio seems to think they have got a way out of here, but he doesn’t see one. Manbot whirs and clicks, accessing the building’s blueprints, he informs everyone that a silo shaft is indicated beneath them. ‘Prepare for rapid vertical descent’ he states without any emotion.

‘Vertical? What’s he mean by…vertical!?’ Jared exclaims as the floor beneath them gives way. ‘No!’ shouts Scorpio, as Manbot begins counting down the teams seconds to impact. Flex screams and turns his limbs into giant panes of metal hoping to slow his descent, while Judd holds onto Arlette and Heather has Myra. Mac calls out to Heather who is the closest to the bottom and replies that she will catch who she can. Carefree, Radius boasts that he doesn’t need help as his force field will cushion his fall. ‘Good, because you didn’t even make my long list!’ Heather tells him.

Scorpio and the rest of the Zodiac move over to the shaft and begin firing their weapons down it. Scorpio orders as many Alphans to be killed as possible, but that it is most important that Dr. Haddock is killed. As the Alphans land at the bottom of the shaft, dodging bullets, Judd mutters that they have gone from fish in a fry to fish in a barrel. Tired, Myra tells Heather to have Manbot access the side corridor. Heather tells her teammate to access the side corridor, and Manbot does so, announcing that the corridor seal is disengaged.

Suddenly, someone warns everyone to move out of the way - as the Zodiac just dropped something big down the shaft. It lands with a mighty boom, and as Radius points out, the Zodiac have blocked their only access to Alpha Flight. But someone else points out ‘Or intentionally cut off our way back to them’. Guardian asks if everyone is accounted for, to which Flex declares that he is here, but that he thinks he broke his ankle, as his boots are too big. Judd announces that Murmur is hanging in, but not for long.

Holding the scientist in her arms, Heather informs everyone that their ticket into and back from the Microverse, Myra, has just lost consciousness, and any answers just went with her. Heather points out that from the looks of things, the Zodiac was interested in destroying Myra’s lab. ‘With her in it!’ Radius exclaims, before pointing out that they left Sasquatch behind. ‘Let’s get back up there! What are we waiting for?!’

Mac steps forward, ‘I’ll give the orders’ he reminds Radius, before remarking that it is clear that their trip back from the sub-atomic Microverse has left them all disorientated. He decides that they cannot re-engage the Zodiac until they get their feet back under them, before asking why everyone thinks the Zodiac are here. Judd interrupts Mac, telling him that while he finishes giving orders and asking questions, he is going to go get Murmur some help. Angrily, Mac says ‘Puck! Do not question my authority again!’

Mac begin to say that he is just as concerned about Murmur as everyone else is, when suddenly, ‘Put a sock in it, Mac!’ shouts Heather, pointing out that they have people down here who need help. Heather tells her estranged husband that no one cares if he leads or not, but if he is going to do it, then he has to do it well so no one feels the need to question him.

There is a moments silence, before Adrian quietly informs everyone that there are dead people down here. ‘Epsilon guards and workers and…’ Flex suddenly remembers how death relates to the Zodiac, for he cut one of them in half - Taurus - on his very first outing with Alpha Flight. He is now hoping that it will not be an eye for an eye…a death for a death.

Myra suddenly comes around, ‘…Danger…’ she whispers. Heather tells the doctor not to get excited, as they are here now. Myra informs Heather that there are dangerous things in her lab, which is why she brought them back from the Microverse. Mac asks how the Zodiac could have gotten into a facility this secure, to which Judd reminds Mac that the Zodiac teleported out on their last encounter, so perhaps they teleported in this time.

‘WHO CARES!’ shouts Jared, declaring that they need to get back up and help the Epsilon guards. He reveals that some of them are his friends and they are up there fighting and dying while Alpha Flight are down here hiding and letting them die. ‘Are we heroes or not?’ Mac takes to the air, announcing that Radius is right, they cannot let civilians perish, they need to get back up there. ‘Now you’re talking my language!’ Jared exclaims.

Judd remarks, with all due respect, that it would be a suicide mission, and reminds Radius that the Epsilons are soldiers, which is what they signed on for. Judd points out that they cannot screw up here, for all of Canada is at stake if the Zodiac take control of this facility. Judd tells Mac not to get mad at him for telling him, but that he needs to be told, because this is a whole different scenario then how he is thinking. Judd points out that they need to get a handle on where and how many Zodiacs there are.

‘I saw new ones!’ exclaims Flex. Manbot announces that his optical scan reply indicates and confirms twelve Zodiac. He then reveals that further information is available from building security playback in monitor rooms. Puck announces that they have to split up. He turns to Manbot and tells him to take Radius and Flex and go find one of those “monitors” so they can work the building. Judd tells Mac that the two of them can go and corral the Zodiac into a place more manageable, while Heather announces that she will take the injured to the medi-labs and meet up with them later. Judd agrees, to which Heather tells him it is a good plan, but that they need more fire-power. ‘I wonder where Sunfire and Sasquatch are now…?’

Yes, where is Sasquatch? Does he even know where he is? ‘GROARWWL!’ he roars, slobber dribbling out of his mouth full of jagged teeth. That wasn’t really much of an answer was it? Does he even care who he is leaping on in the Prometheus Division? Would the significance of the names Capricorn, Leo and Aries mean anything to him? Or are his actions guided by different constellations? Capricorn cries for help as Sasquatch crushes him, but Leo replies ‘Help you? I can’t even help myself!’

Aries reminds his teammates that this beast is not on their agenda, and tells them to free themselves so they can move on. ‘Easy for you to say’ Leo mutters. Suddenly, Sasquatch releases them. Did he hear them? Is that why he begins to lumber on his way? Or is he far less complicated than that?

One of the trio informs Scorpio that Sasquatch has escaped. Scorpio replies that it is of no concern, as they have found what they came for, even though Dr. Haddock hid it. ‘But not well enough to keep it from me! It is here my children of the night sky! Just where our spiritual leader, the Ecliptic, said we would find it’. Scorpio then boasts that with this, they will possess the power to reshape the world in their image.

‘It is beautiful…it is everything I’ve ever hoped for!’ Scorpio exclaims. One of the Epsilons asks what Scorpio is talking about and mutters that it is a steel cube. Scorpio tells him to be silent, and reminds him that he lives only through his kindness, warning him not to tempt him to rescind his hospitality. Pisces points out that it is enormous and asks Scorpio how they will move it. Scorpio tells Pisces not to trouble herself with these minor details, before the two Gemini asks of Alpha Flight. Scorpio reminds the Zodiac that their job is to follow the plan as he commands, before exclaiming that Alpha Flight can be left to him.

However, not all things that concern the future of Alpha Flight occur within the oppressive walls of Department H. While Jean-Paul Beaubier has no idea that even has a future with Alpha Flight as the hero known as Northstar, it is a future he is nonetheless racing toward as surely as he hurls himself toward the granite cliff-face of this large mountain at top speed. The handsome former Alphan changes his course at the last possible instant to avoid impact - but he does noting to alter his long-range future.

If Northstar knew what was in store for him, he might very well turn around and fly back the other direction. Though even that course would lead him straight back to this spot, eventually…Lavelle, Quebec…his twin sister’s old home. Landing, Jean-Paul thinks to himself how much better Jeanne-Marie’s life was when she lived and taught here, before wondering why he has returned. ‘Perhaps the hole in my life is her?’ he wonders.

Suddenly an elderly Nun walks up behind Jean-Paul, and in her native French declares that it burned down. The old woman informs Jean-Paul that the school burned down, adding that he will find nothing here but the ghosts of dead, innocent children. ‘Children perished in the fire?’ asks Jean-Paul, shocked. The Nun replies that many children and teachers perished, many souls were lost, before asking him why it interests him. Northstar replies that his sister taught her, before excusing himself from the old woman and taking his leave, where he begins to explore the ruins of the blackened structures.

Jean-Paul tells himself that like much of his past and the people around him, this memory too has burned to the ground leaving little for him. He reminds himself that his sister no longer resides here - or anywhere as far as he knows - so why has he returned? Peering into another room, Jean-Paul asks himself what it is he is hoping to find, when he hears a thick French-Canadian voice asking ‘Exactly. And the next problem?’

Jean-Paul sees his sister Jeanne-Marie “Aurora” Beaubier sitting at the front of the classroom dressed in a Nun outfit. Jeanne-Marie sees Jean-Paul and beckons him in. Jean-Marie returns to the blackboard where she has drawn a picture of a sun and written the sentence Give me the Sun, Mother! She tells Jean-Paul that he is extremely late, but that he may yet learn something. Jean-Paul sits at a desk and his head falls into his hands, as the frazzled Aurora asks him where he would like to begin.

Back in Department H, Manbot, Radius and Flex are riding an odd elevator. Adrian nervously asks Manbot if he is sure that this is an elevator, as he has never seen this one before. As the platform passes floor 11, Manbot replies that this service lift is the only access to Floor 13 for non-employees. ‘Floor 13? There is no Floor 13 in Department H’ Adrian exclaims. ‘Correct’ replies Manbot. Jared ask where they are going then, when suddenly the elevator stops. ‘Floor 13. Exit now’ Manbot announces.

Glancing around the mysterious Floor 13, Adrian exclaims that it is so slick, before remarking that he thought they didn’t put thirteenth floors in buildings because they are supposed to be bad luck. ‘Let me know, runt!’ exclaims Radius as he gets back onto the elevator platform. Adrian asks his brother where he is going, to which Jared replies ‘Into battle where I belong! Later!’ Adrian begins to tell Jared that he cant go, as Puck said, when Manbot tells Flex to leave Radius and come with him. Flex asks Manbot if he doesn’t think Jared is going to get into trouble if they let him go. ‘The probability is 88.62%’ Manbot states. ‘Wow…that’s like a B+’ Flex exclaims.

Entering a chamber, Flex points out to Manbot that there is no one here. Manbot explains that mandatory evacuation of life forms to prevent detection scans of the floor are standard assault protocol. Flex asks Manbot if this is the “Monitor Bay” he was talking about. ‘Affirmative’ states Manbot. Adrian remarks that he doesn’t see any monitors anywhere, so how are you supposed to see? Suddenly, Manbot places a visor attached to a device on Flex’s head, and the young Alphan exclaims that he can see everywhere. ‘Affirmative’ replies Manbot.

If Flex knew where to look - or how to look - then he might see Heather lost not only in the catacombs of Department H, but also in her thoughts. Heather flies along a corridor, holding Murmur and Dr. Haddock in each arm, apologizing to them for taking so long, but points out that this building is Labyrinthine in the best of circumstances - ‘And we are far from the best of circumstances here’.

Heather arrives in a large room where she sees some Medics. She is relieved that they are still here. Dropping down beside a doctor, she informs him that Murmur is critical, and Dr. Haddock less so. The doctor checks Arlette and informs Heather that she still has life signs. ‘You go and fight your battle and we’ll fight ours here’ the doctor remarks, motioning to the other medics helping wounded Epsilons and other Department H personnel. Heather tells the doctor to do his best for Murmur, then, surprisingly, Arlette wearily thanks Heather. ‘Don’t hurry to thank me, Arlette. We aren’t out of the woods yet’.

Which one? Which one will it be?

Making their way through the many halls and corridors of Department H, Guardian informs Judd that this obviously wasn’t the right way to go, as they haven’t seen anything. Judd shushes Mac as he hears noises ahead. Judd then points out to Mac that it is doing them no good to be at each other’s throats, suggesting that until this is over at least, they put their differences aside, then settle it like men. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Mac asks. ‘Whatever you’d like’ Judd replies.

Judd glances around and asks Guardian if he heard something, when suddenly an image of Flex appears before them. ‘Hey guys! It’s men, Flex! I can see you!’ Adrian exclaims excitably. ‘Oh yeah? Then how tall am I?’ Judd asks. ‘You’re the same height you always…oh, that was a joke, huh?’ Flex mumbles. ‘Can’t put one past you’ Judd tells the youngster, before asking him why he is gray, and what he has found out.

Flex informs the senior Alphans that he and Manbot are in the Monitor Bay and that Manbot says he is able to hologram himself to anyone with an Alpha identitag implant. Judd mutters that he doesn’t have an implant…does he? Guardian then asks Flex if he can use the monitors to find out if there are any Zodiac near them, to which Adrian exclaims that is the reason he called! ‘There are three of them…right behind you!’

Suddenly, there is a large explosion, and Mac and Judd are knocked off their feet. ‘Balance!’ exclaims Libra as she holds her sword out towards the Alphans. Aquarius exclaims that the Air Signs are making a strike for the Zodiac. ‘Gemini and I can handle them!’ both of the Gemini twins exclaim. ‘Plan “A”, Mac?’ Judd asks. ‘Uh-huh’ Guardian replies, exclaiming that they are too powerful so they need to fall back. Both Alphans turn and run down the corridor, with Judd muttering that he hopes they don’t follow. Cryptically, the Gemini exclaim ‘Don’t let them escape! They are the ones who have harmed us most!’

Lower, Heather streaks down another hallway, thinking to herself that this is unbelievable, for they are only gone for a matter of hours and in that time, the entire Department falls. ‘It’s as if our departure to the Microverse was times by the Zodiac’. Heather turns her thoughts to her new battle suit, not only is it bad enough that she doesn’t trust its geothermal “power” channeling, not it is registering some weird earth energy power arc, but like nothing she has ever seen on her meters before.

Heather realizes that the energy is just ahead and flies towards it, only to come across Sunfire! ‘Gonna kill you!’ Taurus exclaims to Alpha Flight’s ally. Virgo warns Taurus to stay with Scorpio’s plan - strike and retreat. Sunfire asks Heather what that means, to which Heather points out that they are teleporting away, trying to keep them distracted. ‘We’d better find the others!’

Lower still, Radius finds himself in amongst a group of Epsilons who are screaming ‘Fall back! Fall back!’ Jared asks them what is going on, what it is they are running from. Flex’s hologram appears beside his brother and asks Jared what he is doing. Jared points out that Puck wants him to be more of a team player, ‘And the team needs more arsenal!’ ‘Get out of here, man! It’s coming!’ another Epsilon exclaims.

Jared asks what it is that is coming, to which one of the Epsilons informs him that something the Zodiac let loose from a lab. ‘Come on, or it will get us like all the others - nothing can stop it!’ That is just the kind of challenge Radius likes - the impossible. ‘Nothing? We’ll see about that!’ the cocky Alphan boasts.

Which one? Which one will it be?

Suddenly, Radius sees what all the Epsilons are running from. ‘No way!’ he shouts. ‘Brothers! Our little pet’s next snack has arrived’ Aries remarks to Leo and Capricorn as they ride on some platform, propped up by the living bacteria which also hosts bones of its Epsilon victims in its form. Flex urges his brother to run, informing him that Manbot is sating that thing they are leading around is a bacterial super-organism and it can eat through anything. Radius tells his younger brother to get out of here, boasting that he can handle this.

Capricorn tells Radius to look at what they found in the Prometheus Lab. ‘We’re taking it for a walk and it’s stripping everything it runs over to the bone!’ ‘And you’re next, Alpha punk!’ Leo exclaims. ‘Yeah, I’m quaking. Why don’t you “Wild Kingdom” rejects come down here and I’ll feed you some fist!’ Jared exclaims. Flex urges his brother to pull back until he can send him some help, as there are too many of them. As Aries and Leo both pound Jared, he replies that he doesn’t need any help. Unable to see the hologram of Flex, Aries tells Radius that he doesn’t know who he is talking to, but that he is going to need all the help he can get!

Jared knows that Aries is right, for he is in way over his head - not that he would ever admit it to himself. But luckily for Radius, random, uncomplicated chance is smiling down upon him - through jagged yellow teeth. Sasquatch growls as he enters the room. Capricorn screams as Aries exclaims ‘Uh-oh…he’s back!’ Jared smiles and declares ‘That’s right, goat-boy, and he’s on my side!’ Flex points out to his brother that without Murmur to control him, Sasquatch isn’t on anyone’s side, he’s just wild. ‘Shut up, dweeb!’ Jared snaps.

Sasquatch brings his mighty fist down on Capricorn, but Flex’s hologram points out that Capricorn isn’t there anymore. Held back by Leo, Jared asks his brother what he means. Flex motions to where Capricorn teleported away to when Leo announces that he has the signal and Scorpio wants them back. ‘Good’ mumbles Capricorn as he releases the catch that is holding the bacteria back. Releasing it causes the deadly liquid to gush out, and Capricorn smiles, ‘Good-bye and good-luck, “loser”!’ The three Zodiac are then teleported away.

Radius is left on the floor, suddenly a feeling comes over him and he almost remembers what it is - after all, he was only six years old when it was beaten out of him. The feeling of FEAR. Frozen in place, he doesn’t move, despite Flex’s hologram urging him to run. Fear could cost a life in a situation like this.

But which one? Which one will it be?

Suddenly, Sasquatch growls loudly and grabs Radius in his hand. ‘Good, Sasquatch! Get him out of there!’ Flex exclaims. Suddenly, Radius finds himself slammed up against the ceiling, and he tries to tell Sasquatch to put him down as he is going to crush him. Flex urgently tells Sasquatch to go the other way, when suddenly, there is a slurping and grinding noise coming from down below.

Which one will it be? You, Sasquatch.

‘No no no no no no NO!’ shouts Radius, still held up high in Sasquatch’s hand, while the carcass of Sasquatch lies on the floor below. He was ripped from the wilds, stolen from his family and pushed around Department H like an animal for months on end without ever comprehending why. Adding to that, he was mistaken by his teammates for the man they knew as Walter Langkowski. He finally met his end preserving the life of a teammate - but why? Instinct most likely, the urge to protect one’s young. Accusingly, Flex exclaims ‘You did this to him, you! Going off by yourself!’

Which one will it be? It’ll be you…but who said it will only be one?

‘Cowards!’ shout the Zodiac as they follow Guardian, who carries Judd on his back now as the fly with haste down the corridor. ‘What can we say? You frighten us something fierce, eh?’ replies Judd mockingly, while urging Mac onwards, as they almost have the Zodiac where they want them. Mac calls out to Flex, asking him if he can hear him, when the holographic form of the youngest Alphan appears, exclaiming that he has to tell them what happened to - but he doesn’t get the chance, as Mac exclaims that there is no time, and orders Flex to patch him through to Manbot.

Suddenly, a humming sound signals the arrival of Virgo, Taurus and Capricorn, joining Libra, Aquarius and the Gemini twins. Taurus informs his teammates that Scorpio sent them to help them bust some skulls, before asking them what they are all standing around. ‘What are you waiting for?’ ‘Balance!’ exclaims Libra. ‘They went into the room ahead!’ the Gemini twins declare. ‘A room? That’s it! They’re finished! Let’s gut them!’ Taurus declares as he and the others enter the room Judd and Mac are standing in.

‘You Alpha idiots have no where to run!’ Taurus exclaims, to which Judd replies ‘Who said we were running, eh?’ ‘Manbot! Deploy!’ orders Guardian, when suddenly, all over the room dozens of weapons load into place, and the doors to the room shut. ‘What is this?’ ‘Balance!’ ‘My teleport signal isn’t registering!’ ‘We’re sealed in!’ the Zodiac acclaims. Guardian tells the Zodiac that they are stuck in here with them, in Combat Centrale, Alpha Flight’s state of the art training facility. As the Zodiac stand together, surrounded by the weapons, Judd tells them to get ready to learn some lessons - the hard way!

Lower, Sunfire and Heather fly alongside each other, and Shiro asks Flex if he is still tracing the Zodiac. Adrian replies that he is, and informs his teammates that in Combat Centrale there are six of them against Puck and Guardian.

‘Six to two? We’d better get over there!’ Heather exclaims. Heather reminds Sunfire that she hasn’t seen him lately, and asks him to forgive her for asking - ‘But what happened to your skin?’ Indeed, half of Sunfire’s skin is now turned black, and Shiro begin to tells Heather that the doctors tell him he has radiation poisoning and that he will soon - ‘No!’ Sunfire exclaims as he and Heather fly into a corridor littered with bones.

‘My Lord! What is it?’ Heather asks. Flex suddenly declares that he forgot to tell them but that Radius ran off to fight, then he ran into the Zodiac who let loose this biological “thing”. Flex exclaims that then Sasquatch ran in to save Radius, but the biological thing ran over him and…his voice trails off as Heather sees a giant hand sticking up in the air. ‘Oh, no…not again…Walter…’.

Sunfire remarks that Sasquatch’s bones are almost polished, and asks the where the entity is now, when suddenly, there is a loud ‘HELP!’ ‘Never mind, I believe I have my answer’ Shiro remarks. He and Heather fly along the hallway, above the bacteria, and see Radius at the end, keeping the bacteria at bay by extending his force filed, also protecting the Epsilons behind him. Jared tells Heather to stay back, as he has got it with his force field. Heather points out to Jared that he is exhausted, and tells him to fall back and get these Epsilons to safety, to let she and Sunfire handle this.

‘No! You get the men out of here and leave me alone!’ Radius exclaims. He boasts that he is going to beat this thing and that he is going to beat it own his own, that he doesn’t need anyone to help him. ‘I DON’T NEED ANYONE!’ he shouts. ‘Radius! Do as your told!’ Heather remarks, when suddenly, she sees General Clarke run past the Epsilons. What is he doing here? And why would the acting head of Department H be wearing a containment suit and looking worried? Is General Clarke trying to escape the battle…or join in?

Well? Which one? Which one will it be?

Heather quickly tells Radius and Sunfire to handle this and flies off, reminding them to keep in touch with Flex and call if they need back-up. ‘I’ve got a rat to catch’.

Back in Combat Centrale, Judd and Guardian engage in battle with the Zodiac, who are also kept busy by the large arsenal of Alpha Flight’s “Danger Room”. Judd asks Mac if he notices something odd about the situation, to which Mac replies ‘Two of us, six of them and still a stand-off?’ ‘That’d be it’ Judd replies. Mac calls to Flex and asks him to trace the other six Zodiac, to which Aquarius tells Guardian that he better worry over the six he has got right here. ‘Lay it on him, Aquarius!’ Taurus shouts.

Judd calls to Mac and asks him to tell Manbot to program them out. Mac calls to Flex, who replies that he has found the rest of the Zodiac. ‘I can see six Zodiac fighting…oh, whoops, that’s you guys!’ Flex turns to Manbot and asks him what he should do. Manbot tells Flex to select the bio sign scan from the main menu to access group life scan search. Judd tells Mac that the Zodiac may be pushing pieces around, ‘But we sure don’t have to, eh! Let’s take it up a notch!’

Flex announces from the Monitor Bay that he can see some of the building and that the Zodiac stole something and are moving it towards, ‘Um, I’m not sure where’. Mac asks what it was they stole, to which Adrian replies that he cannot tell. Manbot tells Flex to apply zoom function and describe the object to him for analysis.

As Guardian fires an electromagnetic blast at one of the Zodiac, he asks Judd if he heard that the other Zodiac are taking something. ‘As we will take your lives!’ the Gemini twins exclaim, as one of the reshapes the metal artillery bank. Mac is surprised, but Judd is thinking along the same lines, and exclaims that it is if one of the twins has the ability to transfigure metal. ‘I think it’s time we had off with the goalie mask!’ Judd declares, leaping onto the Gemini twin and ripping the mask from his face.

‘No!’ exclaims the twin as Judd declares that he has a bad feeling about who is underneath the mask. ‘Madison Jeffries!’ exclaims Guardian in horror. Jeffries and the other Gemini twin exclaim ‘Jeffries is no more. Now there is only one of us. Gemini of flesh and Gemini of steel, but only Gemini!’ As Jeffries is cornered in by the door to Combat Centrale, he uses his mutant powers to transmutate metal, plastics and glass to create a hole. Guardian tells him that he isn’t Gemini, but Madison Jeffries, a member of Alpha Flight. ‘You have been for years!’ Judd tells Jeffries that they have all been through some mental tug-of-wars lately, but that he has to shake this off, remember who he is, who Alpha Flight are and what they stand for.

‘We are of the Zodiac! We will do only what the Heavens demand of us’ Jeffries exclaims. ‘And just what would that be, eh?’ asks Judd. ‘Balance!’ cries Libra, when suddenly the large Taurus comes up behind Mac and Judd and tells them that he will mess them up, which is what the Heavens demand of them. Taurus adds that he wants them to tell the “metal-hand boy” that chopped him up last time that when he finds him, he’s dead meat. There is a humming sound and the Zodiac begin to teleport out again. ‘Now who’re the cowards?’ Judd asks. Jeffries grins insanely and declares ‘We are not afraid of you…but you will soon fear us…as will the world!’

Judd tells Guardian that this is bad, that they’re being played hard. Mac declares that if it is a game the Zodiac want, then it’s time to put the ball back in their court. Judd calls to Flex and asks him to get a hold on where the Zodiac went. From the Monitor Bay, Flex replies that he is currently trying to see where the other Zodiac are taking that thing. He informs Manbot that it just looks like a big metal cube, before exclaiming that he can some sign posts, and announces they are going into the Hangar Bay.

‘Comparative visual records match - “Metal Cube” commencing’ Manbot announces as his databases begin scanning. Flex tells Guardian and Puck that they need to hang on a second as Manbot is looking to see if he can figure out what it is the Zodiac are stealing. Suddenly, Manbot exclaims ‘Identified! DANGER!’ Flex then screams and tells Manbot to get away from him, as Guardian asks him what is going on. ‘Are you under attack?’ Judd exclaims that he doesn’t like the sound of that.

In the Monitor Bay, Manbot exclaims ‘DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!’ and suddenly brings Flex close to him. ‘Manbot! Don’t’ Flex pleads. What should be made of Manbot? His actions and motives have always been a little gray. He could be considered a hero or a villain at this point. ‘DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!’ Suddenly, on Floor 13, there is a loud THOOM sound, then silence.

Which one? Which one will it be?

Back in Combat Centrale, Guardian calls out to Flex, but gets no response. Judd suggests to Mac that they should go with the Hangar Bay info, but Mac replies that he is not going to put Flex’s life at risk, and declares that they are going after him. Judd points out that they do not even know where Flex is, but that they do know that the Zodiac is about to get out the door with something that must be worth causing a whole lot of ruckus about. Judd remarks that Flex has probably just spooked himself again, and points out that he is with Manbot, which should be enough. As Mac flies out of Combat Centrale with Judd on his back, he tells the diminutive Alphan that he hopes he is right. ‘Me too’ replies Judd. ‘Won’t be able to live with myself if I’m not’.

Lower, Sunfire unleashes powerful blasts of flame at the bacteria and tells Radius to keep pressing on it with his force field, for they have almost destroyed it. ‘Almost is for losers! I want that stupid gunk DEAD!’ Jared exclaims. And in a moment, it is. ‘All right! You did it, man, you did it!’ one of the Epsilons congratulates Radius. Jared hangs his head, and solemnly replies ‘Yeah…I did it, all right’.

Guardian and Puck enter the hallway and see Radius and Sunfire. Mac tells them to come with he and Judd, as they have got to get to the Hangar Bay. Judd asks the others if they have seen Heather, pointing out that she should have met up with them by now, and he is worried. Radius reveals that Heather went after Clarke, and that she is fine, before beginning to explain about Sasquatch - but a determined Guardian tells Jared to shut up, as there is no time for stories. ‘Get moving! We have to catch those creeps!’

‘Hey, creep!’ Heather exclaims. ‘What -?’ General Jeremy Clarke mutters, turning in surprise. Heather flies straight towards Clarke and shoving him up against the wall remarks that she had a feeling he would answer to that name. Clarke tells Vindicator to release him, ‘I have no time for your dramatics!’ Heather replies by telling Clarke that dramatics would imply she is acting. She tells him fiercely that this is no act, ‘I want answers!’

Heather begins her list of questions by asking Clarke what the heck is going on here, followed by what is the chemical ooze that ate Sasquatch and what it was doing in this facility, and finally ‘Where are you going and why are you wearing a radiation suit?’ Clarke replies by telling Heather that the Zodiac have destroyed the building’s reactor. Heather is confused by this comment and tells Clarke Alpha Flight have always been told that Department H uses hydro-electric power. ‘It sounds better in the press releases!’ Clarke replies.

What!?’ exclaims Heather, obviously bothered by this. Clarke explains to Heather that if the reactor reaches critical mass, everyone in Ottawa will be killed. ‘I’m trying to prevent that. Are you going to stop me?’ Heather tells Clarke to take the radiation suit off, so she can go in. Clarke tells Vindicator that it is very noble of her, but that there isn’t time. However, as Heather flies Clarke down into the reactor core, Clarke tells Heather that she can help him.

Does Heather realize this sounds like a no-win situation? Clarke tells Heather that if he is not successful, she is to leave him and use her battle suit to cool the reactor housing.

One of you could easily die. Which one? Which one will be it?

Meanwhile, in the Hangar Bay, Taurus and company announce that they are here. ‘You’re late!’ snaps Scorpio. Taurus replies that something screwed up their teleportation wave, to which Scorpio explains that Vindicator’s battle suit operates on similar frequencies, and supposes she must have been near them. Scorpio asks of Alpha, to which Libra exclaims ‘Balance!’ Jeffries remarks ‘They said we were one of them’. Scorpio asks Gemini how he feels about such heretical statements. Jeffries’ reply is ‘We are Gemini - we wish all of Alpha dead. Like Sasquatch and Radius!’ ‘Dead?’ remarks Scorpio, before remarking that it is a pity, as they would have made excellent conversions as well.

Scorpio orders Cancer to take the others and load the cube into the cargo hold, and tells Virgo that she will co-pilot with him. ‘My work here is finished!’ Suddenly, Jeffries alerts Scorpio to an unexpected turn in his plans - the arrival of Guardian, Puck Radius and Sunfire. ‘You’re done all right!’ Mac exclaims. ‘So let’s put a fork in them!’ Judd declares.

In the Reactor Core, Heather stands by a computer and informs General Clarke that she can see him on the monitor, then asks what he is looking at in there. Clarke replies that he wishes he knew, before explaining that it looks like a new safety control bypass - not complicated though, so it shouldn’t take him long to remove, that is, if there are no fail-safe components. ‘Vindicator…Heather, I know the two of us have been at odds, but once this is over, I’m committed to improving my rapport with Alpha’ Clarke declares.

Clarke tells Heather that he knows his command style has been difficult, and claims that he cares so much for Canada and all the brave people who work to protect it. Heather smirks and tells Clarke that she understands life and death situations make a person meta-physical, but that if he says any more, she is going to have to open a window. Clarke tells Heather that nevertheless, he hopes she will give him a chance to - suddenly, Heather informs Clarke that the radiation levels are climbing and urges him to get out of there.

Clarke replies that there must have been a fail-safe, to which Heather tells him to hurry, as the core temperature is sky-rocketing! Wearily, Clarke replies that he can’t reach the fail safe and tells Heather with his dying breath that she will need to use her suit to absorb the heat. ‘Absorb? General Clarke?’ Heather exclaims. Suddenly, there is an explosion and Clarke screams. Heather turns her head from the monitor and puts her hands over her face.

And have you heard the phrase “Things happen in THREES?’ Which one? Which one will it be…Next?

‘Balance!’ cries Libra as Aquarius exclaims that something is coming through the wall of the Hangar Bay. Taurus tells his teammates to keep Alpha Flight away from the cube, or to die trying. ‘I vote for that last one!’ Radius declares. Suddenly, Manbot enters the Hangar Bar, ‘DANGER!’ he announces, before stating ‘Payload Flex, prepare for extraction!’ A panel on Manbot’s form opens and Flex is thrust from it, right for the cube with his hands transformed into giant sheathes of metal. Manbot orders him to destroy the containment unit and object.

Manbot announces that the object has been released, and Flex sees the device come out of the cube. He exclaims that it isn’t a cube of steel, ‘But what is it?’ Manbot announces that it is a weapon designated ‘The Nth Projector’. He reveals that it was acquired by the Prometheus Division from the United States Project Pegasus. Manbot adds that the Nth Projector was thought destroyed in death of its creator, Thomas Lightner, and informs anyone listening that is last recorded usage created a rift in the fabric of space.

Scorpio grins wickedly, and exclaims that the Projector’s next usage will cause another rift in space, ‘Though there may be nothing left to record the event when it’s used again!’

Back in the Reactor housing, Heather has pushed her capabilities to the limit. Everything she knows and doesn’t know about this geothermal force-manipulating battle suit she wears has been put on the line to lower the reactor core temperature. But deep inside herself, Heather knows that it is not enough. She think to herself that she has to find more power and force the suit to absorb more of this heat or it is all over. ‘Come on! Take it in…take it in…’

Suddenly, the warning siren shuts off. Heather McNeil Hudson has once more saved Canada - but she is not even sure how. She sighs, exhausted. But the suit that Heather reviles on so many levels has saved the lives of everyone she holds dear…with maybe one exception. Did you hear something? Heather hears it - a small electrical sound coming from her suit. If she doesn’t isolate and remove the arcing component, her suit will explode in fire and consume her in 15 seconds. Oh yes, Heather or her suit. ‘Oh no…’ she utters.

Which one? Which one will it be?

Back in the Hangar Bay, Scorpio orders Leo to load the Nth Projector into the craft. ‘You’re not going anywhere, Scorpio!’ Guardian exclaims. Leo asks Guardian if he wants a bet, and boasts that this place is going to become the biggest radioactive dump in the world when their bomb blows out their generator. Aries snaps at Leo, telling him it is no fun if he gives it all away. Judd asks Scorpio what he is talking about. ‘Only a madman would do something like that!’

Scorpio grins, ‘If you like’ he mutters, declaring that, regardless, Department H will be razed in moments unless they go help their idiotic General Clarke at Ground Zero. Scorpio informs the men that Vindicator is already down there, and adds that he doesn’t think she has enough time left to save herself. Scorpio exclaims that the choice is simple - stop them, or save her. ‘Which one will it be?’ ‘Heather?’ Mac and Judd utter in unison.

In the Reactor, Heather is furiously pulling at her battle suit. But there isn’t much time left…10... And…9... Time…8... Goes…7... By…6... So…5... Fast…4... When…3... You’re…2... Alone…1...

‘Heather…Heather!’ exclaims Mac as he, Judd and the others enter the Reactor room. ‘Mac? NO! Don’t come in here, get - out?’ Heather exclaims, just as the siren on her battle suit stops. Heather looks over at Mac, who looks back. ‘Mac…?’ ‘Heather…’ The two embrace, with Judd, Manbot, Radius, Flex and Sunfire looking on. There is an emotion here so tangible that the entire team can feel it…in Judd’s case, some more than others.

As Mac holds her in his arms, it is a feeling Heather has longed to know. She has waited for it and wanted it every second that she has been a member of Alpha Flight. She cannot pluck the exact term for this feeling from the rush of words that fill her head and threaten to come spilling out - she cannot quite bring herself to speak it. But if all present could hear the one word that describes what she is feeling, that word would be…vindication.

Alpha Flight have suffered losses today, but they have gained something extremely valuable in the process. Who knows, things may finally be looking up for Heather McNeil Hudson and Alpha Flight.

Have you checked your horoscope?

Characters Involved: 

Flex II, Guardian IV, Manbot, Murmur III, Puck, Radius, Sasquatch II, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

Aurora & Northstar (former members of Alpha Flight)

Madison Jeffries / Gemini (former member of Alpha Flight, current member of the New Zodiac)


General Jeremy Clarke

Dr. Myra Haddock

Epsilons and other Department H staff

Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Taurus, Virgo (all New Zodiac)

Sister Chloe

Story Notes: 

The cover to this issue is a homage to Alpha Flight (1st series) #1. Puck, Guardian IV and Sasquatch II are in the same targets as they (or their original) were on Alpha Flight (1st series) #1. Vindicator takes Snowbird’s place, Murmur appears in Northstar’s, Radius in Aurora’s and Flex in Shaman’s. What is different about this cover though is that it is a wraparound, with the Zodiac on the back page cover.

Alpha Flight’s adventures in the Microverse occurred in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #10-11.

Alpha Flight first encountered five members of this new Zodiac in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1. During that battle, Madison Jeffries was captured, Virgo was teleported to Paris by Murmur (only to be retrieved several issues later by Taurus), and Flex injured Taurus, though he has since got better.

Aurora was seen living in Lavelle, Quebec in Alpha Flight (1st series) #1, where she was living and teaching at Madame Dupont’s School for Girls, the orphanage where she was raised. [also see the back story of Alpha Flight (1st series) #9]

Aurora last appeared in X-Factor (1st series) #143, where she was an associate of the Brotherhood.

Heather received her new geothermal battle suit in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1.

An error occurs when Heather arrives on the scene to discover Sunfire battling Virgo and Taurus, Virgo speech bubble comes from Heather, only Heather is drawn into the panel twice, in place of Virgo.

Heather’s comment ‘Oh, no…not again, Walter…’ refers to his previous death, when Snowbird learned Walter was possessed by her foe Tanaraq, she killed him, however, Alpha Flight journeyed to the land of the Great Beasts and were able to retrieve his soul, which then took up residence in the Box armor. He served briefly with Alpha Flight as Box III, but being a very physical man, wanted a body. He and Roger Bochs, the owner and usual wearer of the Box armor discovered a seemingly mindless body which would be perfect for Walter to inhabit. But as they tried to retrieve the body, they discovered that it was actually the Incredible Hulk. Walt could not bring himself to force his of friend Bruce Banner from the body, and finally he “died”, his mind left to wander the Crossroads of Time. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #23-28, Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #313] Walter was later resurrected in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #45-46.

The Sasquatch that dies this issue is of course not Walter Langkowski, but a real legendary “Bigfoot”. Puck discovered this in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #6, though he had the memories stripped from his mind. Alpha Flight later become aware of these real sasquatch as the go to collect one from the Massachusetts Academy in Generation X #58.

Madison Jeffries escapes with the rest of the Zodiac this issue, however in their next appearance, the second Gemini twin is no longer with the Zodiac. Their next appearance is also their last (except for Madison Jeffries), in Weapon X (2nd series) #1, where they are killed in an explosion.

It is unknown who the second Gemini twin is. The comment about him being “Gemini of Flesh”, may allude to Jeffries’ brother, Dr. Lionel Jeffries a.k.a. Scramble the Mixed-up-Man, but he was killed in Alpha Flight (1st series) #49.

It is also unknown who any of the other Zodiac are. Although in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1, it mentioned that the new Scorpio is a former hero.

The Zodiac’s old crone the Ecliptic is not seen after her appearance in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #7.

The Nth Projector is indeed a very powerful device, it was left at Project Pegasus in Marvel Two-in-One #58, and seen at various times during Quasar’s solo series. Most recently it was used in the Avengers / Squadron Supreme Annual 1998, before being acquired by Department H’s Prometheus Division.

As far as we know General Clarke is indeed dead after being burned in the reactor core.

The ending of this issue where Heather’s suit is going to explode on her is a tribute to Alpha Flight (1st series) #12. Only in that issue, it was the original Guardian whose suit was going to explode. In this issue, Guardian entered the room, while in the earlier issue, it was Heather. The major difference of course is that the original Guardian’s battle suit did explode and result in his death.

The closing line ‘Have you checked your horoscope?’ was the opening line to Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1.

Issue Information: 
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